Event organizer

Q&A with Student Organizer Keathley Pinney Brown – Whitman Wire

Photo by Nathaniel Martin.

The Sweet Onion Crank, Whitman’s annual rock climbing competition, returns to campus on April 23. Thread interviewed first-year organizer Keathley Pinney Brown to learn more about the competition and how it differs from other Whitman events.

Thread: For students who don’t know, what is Crank?

Brown: The Sweet Onion Crank is Whitman’s annual rock climbing competition. It is one of many competitions on the Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit (NC3), which is made up of ten colleges across the Northwest that all hold competitions in the spring. This year, the Crank is the last event on the circuit, so it is especially exciting and will welcome climbing teams from several states, as well as any interested Whitman students. You don’t need a harness or technical knowledge of belaying to compete. All you need are shoes (which you can rent at the climbing center) and some energy!

Thread: When is the event this year?

Brown: The competition will be on April 23. It’s basically an all-day event. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m., then the first climbing round begins at 8:30 a.m. and lasts two hours. We have three rounds, each lasting two hours, so the last climbing round will end at 3 p.m. around 5:30 p.m.

Thread: How long have you been organizing this event?

Brown: I took the crank coordinator position this academic year, so I started in September 2021. The Crank is a cool event because it’s student-run, which none of the others are. CL3 compounds. I’ve had a lot of fun working on the mockup over the past two months and I’m thrilled that it all came together on the day!

Thread: What sets the Crank apart from other annual school events?

Brown: One really cool thing about the Crank is that because it’s part of CL3, we’ll have other climbers coming to Walla Walla from all over the area. However, the Crank is always open to all Whitman students who are interested, allowing Whitties to meet climbers from various schools and make new friends. Crank is also a mix of all types of activities – there’s rock climbing, of course, but we’ll also have a raffle that everyone who signs up will automatically be entered into. There are some great prizes this year, so keep an eye out for those! We’ll also be hosting wacky activities like the onion eating contest, which will be a great way to unwind after a few hours of climbing. Long story short, there are loads of activities and a bit of something for everyone! If you want to spend all day at the Crank, that’s an option, or you can just drop by to get your heat and call it a day.

Thread: Any advice for students wishing to enroll in the Crank?

Brown: My main advice would be to go for it! Climbing can seem daunting at first glance, but the Crank aims to provide a fun and supportive environment for all students and can be a great way to learn about climbing and meet new people. I have been competing for a while now and have always been amazed at how supportive the climbing community isat competitions, you’ll see climbers from other teams cheering each other on and forming a strong community, even in a short space of time.

Those who want to participate in the Crank this year should Register as soon as possible. The event caps participants at 150 for this year’s competition. Pinney Brown warns that the event will fill up quickly, especially once other schools register. Proof of vaccination (a photo of the vaccination record or the physical record works) and masks will be required on site for competitors, spectators and volunteers.

For any other questions, contact Keathley Pinney Brown at [email protected]

Photo by Nathaniel Martin.